Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Editors, subplots and monkeys with typewriters...

Just thought I'd share some websites I stumbled across this week and a book on writing I highly recommend. More on those in a bit.

I'm also pleased to report that Sally Quilford's '100,000 words in 100 days' challenge is a roaring success. There are over 300 of us in the Facebook group (the comraderie is wonderful) and the 103 writers who fill out the daily wordcount spreadsheet have now hit a million words (written since 1st January).

After a rocky start (I really should have done some more plotting beforehand!) I'm pretty much on target now - it's day 22 and I've written 21,500 words. 'Pantsing' this novel is scary but I'm enjoying the thrill of the characters leading the plot rather than the other way round. I'm going to have to do a hell of a rewrite afterwards but, considering I'll have written the first draft in just over 3 months if I complete the challenge, I think that was always going to be inevitable!

Anyway, here are the links I've found useful or interesting this week:

What UK fiction editors are looking for in 2013 - http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/2013/01/12/what-fiction-editors-want

The anatomy of a Kindle bestseller - http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/01/21/self-publishing-success-kindle-bestseller/

Seven ways to add great subplots to your novels - http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-ways-to-add-great-subplots-to-your-novel

And the 'how to write' book I mentioned earlier?

Scarlett Thomas's 'Monkeys with Typewriters'.

I have DOZENS of how to write books on my shelves and I've learned something from all of them but this book is a cut above. If you've already read a gazillion basic chapters on plot, character and language and need something a bit more thought-provoking, something that goes a bit deeper and teaches you something you didn't know then this is the book for you. For instance, Scarlett talks about characters having 'super objectives'. These aren't the 'I want' desires that a character might share with friends or family, these are the subconscious desires that make someone act the way they act, make them choose A over B, that shape their lives, and when two characters have opposing super objectives meet you've got conflict just waiting to happen. It's fascinating stuff and has made me view the characters in the novel I'm writing in a whole new light. And that's just the chapter on character. I highly recommend this book.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Blog Tour – ‘Nowhere To Hide’ by Alex Walters

Today I'm delighted to host the 4th part of Alex Walter's blog tour for his new book 'Nowhere to Hide'. Unlike most blog tours where the author is interviewed, in this tour it's the characters. 
So here we go...

Welcome to the ‘Nowhere To Hide’ blog tour, in which you’ll get to read exclusive interviews with the characters from the book. In this post we’re talking to Hugh Salter, the character everyone’s got their eye on.

Name: Hugh Salter

Rank/Job title/Occupation: Principal Officer, Investigations

Why are you so important to the story of ‘Nowhere To Hide’?

Because I’m the boss, I suppose.  I’m where the buck stops.  I have to make the tough decisions about how we prioritise the case-load, and which officers we assign to which missions.  It doesn’t always make me popular, but then not everybody sees the big picture.

I have to watch my back.  When you’re newly-promoted, you know some people will be out to get you. Tall poppy syndrome. And I’ve heard the tittle-tattle about me.  Not that I pay it any attention. I risked my life to get where I am, with a bit of help from Marie Donovan, and I exposed my ex-boss, Keith Welsby, as the bent copper he always was.  So I know how good I am.

And now I just have to keep things on the straight and narrow.  Make sure I keep Donovan under control, and finish the job I started. 

What qualities do you appreciate most in a work colleague?

Reliability.  Loyalty.  I want to know that, if I turn my back, it’s not going to end up with a knife in it, literally or metaphorically.  I want people I can depend on.  It’s all about teamwork.  If the team’s working well, then it makes me look good.  People think I just look out for Number One.  I don’t deny that but if I can drag my way up the greasy pole, there’ll be plenty of people keen to scramble up there with me. 

What’s your life/work balance like these days?

That’s a joke, obviously.  I don’t have a life outside work.  Not so’s you’d notice, anyway.  That’s just the way it is if you want to get on.  There’ll be plenty of time to enjoy myself once I’ve got the status and the money to make the most of it.  In the meantime, I’m too busy keeping one step ahead of the rest.

Which other character from the book would you least want to be stuck in a lift with?

Oh, God.  Keith bloody Welsby, obviously.  Apart from the fact that the lift would stink of cigarettes and stale booze, I don’t want to have to spend any time with him ever again.  It’s true what they say.  There’s nothing worse than a bent copper, and Welsby’s the worst of the lot.  Just an old school thug, without two brain-cells to rub together. 

Who would you like to play you in the screen adaptation of ‘Nowhere To Hide’?

Hah. I’ve no idea.  I don’t watch TV or films much.  Someone told me I looked like that guy, Stephen Campbell Moore.  Played the young teacher in The History Boys?  Watched it on TV out of curiosity, but couldn’t see the likeness myself.

What music do you like to listen to when you’re not on duty/at work?

I don’t listen to music much, either.  If I’m in the car I’m listening to the news, or I play audio-books.  Management stuff mainly.  They don’t teach you how to manage in this business.  They just assume you can do it.  So that’s another way I’m keeping one step ahead.

What is your favourite sport?

I’m a cricket man, if anything.  Used to play till I got too busy.  Decent bat, and a cunning leg-spinner.  On a good day, batsmen couldn’t read me at all.  Never knew what sort of ball was coming from me.  Don’t have time for that these days.  Try to play a bit of chess.  Used to be good at that, too.  But these days I can’t find anyone who’s willing to challenge me.

About the book:

‘On the North Wales coast two people traffickers are brutally murdered; a drug dealer is mown down in inner-city Stockport and in a remote Pennine cottage a police informant is shot dead. Seemingly random, these murders are the work of one professional hitman.

Reluctantly, Marie Donovan takes on another undercover role and finds herself working with DI Jack Brennan, a high-flying detective with a tarnished career. Soon, mistrustful of each other and their superiors, both begin to suspect that they are mere pawns in a complex game of criminal rivalry and police corruption.

As Marie struggles to uncover the truth, she realises that nothing is as it seems. With every move, she draws the threat ever closer until ultimately the killer is watching Marie herself. Out on her own, she finds herself with no friends, no-one to trust and nowhere to hide.’

‘Nowhere To Hide’ is published by Avon HarperCollins, and you can buy it here.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nowhere-To-Hide-ebook/dp/B007UK9KPE

The first post in the blog tour, an interview with Marie Donovan, can be found here. http://leighrussell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/nowhere-to-hide.html

The second post in the blog tour, an interview with Jack Brennan, can be found here. http://quillersplace.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/blog-tour-nowhere-to-hide-by-alex-walters/

The third post in the blog tour, an interview with Lizzie Carter, can be found here. http://womagwriter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/nowhere-to-hide.html

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Two writing competitions: pen a racy novel or a sun soaked story!

Your opportunity to write for Mills & Boon or feature in a travel-themed short story anthology of all your favourite chick lit writers.

Full details on my Facebook page (if you 'like' my page when you're there you should see any other competitions I post about in your Facebook news feed):


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year, New Novel!

Well, I've started it - the 100,000 words in 100 days challenge (see previous post for details) and, so far, two days in, I'm on track! Current word count for novel 4 is 2,300 words.

Unlike novel 3, which I outlined in detail before writing, I'm totally 'pantsing' this one. I know the structure I need to use and I know what happens in the end and a few twists and turns I need to include on the way but that's about it! It's scary and exciting at the same time (not least because the last novel I 'pantsed' was HEAVEN CAN WAIT') and each time I sit down to add another 1,000 words I think 'oh god, what am I going to write?' but then, after I've written my 1,000 words, I'm buzzing because the novel has revealed something new to me.

Only 98,000 words to go...

I should mention that it's relatively easy to find the time to write at the moment as I'm not back at work until next week (so I can write during the Spudling's two hour lunchtime nap) but it'll be decidedly more tricky from next Monday! As I mentioned in my last blog post I also want to find the time to exercise this year so I need to squeeze everything in. My great plan? I drop the Spudling at his childminder at 8am. I can get home by 8.10am if I don't fanny about having a chat which gives me 50 minutes to write before I need to start the day job (I'm lucky to work from home apart from Tuesday). I'll then work from 9am until 12, then do a Wii or DVD workout in the living room for half an hour and then have lunch. More work from 1pm until 5pm then I pick up the Spudling. And if I don't meet my 1,000 word quota in the morning I finish writing after Spudling's gone to bed and me and Mr Metal have had dinner. Easy! *cough* I think this might be one hell of a knackering year but I'm going to give it my best shot!

What have you got planned?